Not many Americans over the age of 50 are shopping for groceries online, according to a recent study conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation and the AARP (hat tip to Supermarket News).

The IFIC and AARP surveyed 1,004 Americans ages 50 years and older last month and found only:

  • 17 percent had ever ordered groceries to be picked up from a store
  • 17 percent ordered from a prepared meal delivery service
  • 16 percent ordered groceries to be delivered
  • 10 percent ordered from a meal kit delivery service

Older consumers, it seems, prefer going to the store; 90 percent of respondents shopped at the supermarket at least once a month, 71 percent at a super-store and 46 percent at a warehouse/discount club.

The survey shows that older consumers can see the value in ordering online: not having to travel to the store, a wide variety of products and eliminating the “physical burden of getting around the story or carrying groceries.” But, there are barriers that prevent them from fully adopting the technology.

The top barrier was high delivery fees for 89 percent of respondents. Coming right under that, 88 percent said that they still want to see and touch any item purchase to ensure its quality. These people had concerns about purchasing bad or bruised produce, as well as potential difficulty in returning a product if they ordered it online.

This desire to personally inspect food before purchasing is actually cross-generational. An eMarketer study earlier this year found that 96.1 percent of respondents shopped for food and beverages in-store, and an Adeptmind study this month found that the biggest perk of shopping in-store was to evaluate the product in person.

From the data, older consumers who do shop online are more attentive to food labels — but, they overwhelmingly say that label information is harder to get online. This makes sense for an aging population, which probably has to be more careful about what it eats. Displaying nutritional information more clearly could be an opportunity for retailers to open up more of this market.

It seems like these numbers will change as different generations who are more used to technology and the act of ordering groceries online ages up. But it’s still good to examine these numbers and look at implementing changes today to adapt to the older consumer market of tomorrow.

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